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Author Topic: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)  (Read 203097 times)

rytrasmi

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2610 on: January 25, 2023, 04:55:01 PM »
You capture some bandits, and in this lane the punishment for banditry is death. In speaking with the bandits some renounce their ways, and sincerely decide to be good as defined in this setting. The Paladin is pleased by their conversion, but they were still bandits, and the penalty for banditry is death. So he kills them with no regrets.

That's Lawful. It isn't Good. Lawful Good requires both elements.

Bear in mind that paladins are, by definition, knights, and in a feudal society knights are, by definition, authorized to enforce justice. So it's not the same situation as it is in modern Western law where policing, judicial, and state power of execution are all deliberately separated out by function; this is a society which sees nothing wrong with one person being authorized to do all of the above as needed in any given situation. Even in our own society, conversion and sincere repentance isn't considered to automatically justify commuting a death sentence if someone's earned it by their crimes.

Now you may believe that capital punishment is in itself an evil thing, but again, that's a product of our time, not the sorts of environments in which paladins typically exist. Even today, the Catholic Church still teaches that capital punishment is in principle a licit use of state power (although most actual Catholics tend to be against it as a matter of practical policy, given the limits of fallible human law enforcement and justice establishments).
I agree. If church and state say capital punishment is appropriate, then where does the paladin get the idea that it's not good?

This reminds me of an excellent podcast by Dan Carlin regarding public executions. IIRC, public repentance by the condemned was viewed as a critical step in the process because nobody wanted to watch someone get sent to Hell. Once the condemned repented aloud, it was all good fun because his soul would be fine, and that was the important part. I probably butchered that explanation, but here's the link to the free podcast if anyone's interested.

https://www.dancarlin.com/product/hardcore-history-61-blitz-painfotainment/


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BoxCrayonTales

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2611 on: January 25, 2023, 05:12:38 PM »
If people go to go to hell for sinning, then it makes perfect sense to convert and exterminate everyone so that they don't risk sinning and going to hell.

Only if you assume that any given mortal is justly authorized to make that decision for any other on a general basis. Which is why most religions include both specific commandments ("Thou shalt not murder") and general traditions ("Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord") telling their worshippers that they're not.
It doesn’t matter. While the killer might go to hell, his victims still go to heaven. That’s a worthy sacrifice for the greater good. “I will damn myself to hell by killing all 8 billion human beings, if it means enough of them go to heaven in my place and the countless souls of the future unborn never have to worry about sinning.”

This is a fundamental problem with any kind of morality that allows for the existence of any Greater Good. It inevitably results in the ends consuming the means.

I’m just speaking purely from a logical perspective. The logic checks out, even if humans and gods alike refuse to acknowledge it.

Bruwulf

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2612 on: January 25, 2023, 05:20:40 PM »
I think your interpretation of good is strongly based on a modern mindset.

Moses orders the the destruction of the Midianites. When his army comes back after killing all the Midianite men, but with the Midianite women and children as prisoners God’s prophet is outraged. He orders the subsequent execution of all male children and females who weren’t virgins. When the Hebrews were commanded by God to take Canaan, they were commanded to kill every man, woman and child. If you’re a believer in the Bible following a command by God is inherently good. It doesn’t come close to a modern conception of good. You may not think this is Lawful Good behavior, but I imagine for thousands of years after, the vast majority of Hebrews/Jews, early Christians , modern fundamentalists would describe those actions as fitting within Lawful Good if asked to put them into the 9-point alignment system.

We may be getting off topic.

In this case, my interpretation of "good" is a D&D-centric one. In D&D, good isn't subjective, it's not about where you feel you belong on the axis chart, it's certainly not "whatever my god says to do is good", it's not anything like that. The presence of good and evil in D&D are objective facts and scientifically verifiable. It just is. Followers of evil gods in D&D are not doing good because they are following the commandments of their god.

And as for "following the law", where the Paladin is in an area where the law of the land says "kill all bandits"... So? What if the Paladin is in an area where the law is "nobles can kill a commoner for insulting them"? Can the Paladin kill a kid who laughed at him and "have no regrets"?

You can't see me, but imagine me putting my pinched fingers to the bridge of my nose and sighing, right about now.

There's a reason the D&D alignment system in general, and paladins in specific, have been a point of contention for basically as long as such things have been elements of the game.

Bruwulf

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2613 on: January 25, 2023, 05:25:45 PM »
I agree. If church and state say capital punishment is appropriate, then where does the paladin get the idea that it's not good?

Because D&D. Because Paladins are literally able to sense evil. "Because church and state say so" is less of an authority than "Holy shit, that hurts to look at" or "Hey, why did my magic sword of Goodliness stop working for me?".

A church can become corrupt and still be a church. A paladin that becomes corrupt falls from grace.

rytrasmi

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2614 on: January 25, 2023, 05:50:48 PM »
I agree. If church and state say capital punishment is appropriate, then where does the paladin get the idea that it's not good?

Because D&D. Because Paladins are literally able to sense evil. "Because church and state say so" is less of an authority than "Holy shit, that hurts to look at" or "Hey, why did my magic sword of Goodliness stop working for me?".

A church can become corrupt and still be a church. A paladin that becomes corrupt falls from grace.
I don't know enough about D&D paladins to argue intelligently. I suspect that, in actual medieval times, anyone choosing to believe a sword over the established church hierarchy would be executed as a heretic.
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jhkim

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2615 on: January 25, 2023, 05:53:01 PM »
Also, the "nits make lice" quote which refers to the genocide of native Americans. https://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=197268&sid=191c5ae818e9826fa3a8736857f839a3#p197268

The thing is, American Indians are not born inherently evil. In D&D though, there are whole races that are inherently evil, and their very existence is a blight on the realm.

Orc babies in D&D really are going to grow up to mass rape and kill, and niceness and education isn't going to stop it.

The question is, what real-world ideology is this teaching? By contrast, JRR Tolkien thought about this question, and his stance on orcs was different. As he wrote in letter 153,

Quote from: JRR Tolkien
They would be Morgoth's greatest Sins, abuses of his highest privilege, and would be creatures begotten of Sin, and naturally bad. (I nearly wrote 'irredeemably bad'; but that would be going too far. Because by accepting or tolerating their making — necessary to their actual existence — even Orcs would become part of the World, which is God's and ultimately good.)

So Tolkien felt that orcs could be redeemed, and it's clear that this is a reflection of his own real-world values.

Gygax's orcs are different in a number of ways. Tolkien's orcs are factory workers and foot soldiers. They are part of an industrial complex - either of Sauron or Saruman. They have great but ugly machines, as well as effective but brutal medicine. They speak in lower-class cockney accents. However, they are redeemable.

In AD&D, orcs aren't industrialized this way. They tend to live in caves and dungeons in the wilderness. There is more of a Wild West feel, as epitomized by Keep on the Borderlands.

wmarshal

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2616 on: January 25, 2023, 06:01:03 PM »
I think your interpretation of good is strongly based on a modern mindset.

Moses orders the the destruction of the Midianites. When his army comes back after killing all the Midianite men, but with the Midianite women and children as prisoners God’s prophet is outraged. He orders the subsequent execution of all male children and females who weren’t virgins. When the Hebrews were commanded by God to take Canaan, they were commanded to kill every man, woman and child. If you’re a believer in the Bible following a command by God is inherently good. It doesn’t come close to a modern conception of good. You may not think this is Lawful Good behavior, but I imagine for thousands of years after, the vast majority of Hebrews/Jews, early Christians , modern fundamentalists would describe those actions as fitting within Lawful Good if asked to put them into the 9-point alignment system.

We may be getting off topic.

In this case, my interpretation of "good" is a D&D-centric one. In D&D, good isn't subjective, it's not about where you feel you belong on the axis chart, it's certainly not "whatever my god says to do is good", it's not anything like that. The presence of good and evil in D&D are objective facts and scientifically verifiable. It just is. Followers of evil gods in D&D are not doing good because they are following the commandments of their god.

And as for "following the law", where the Paladin is in an area where the law of the land says "kill all bandits"... So? What if the Paladin is in an area where the law is "nobles can kill a commoner for insulting them"? Can the Paladin kill a kid who laughed at him and "have no regrets"?

You can't see me, but imagine me putting my pinched fingers to the bridge of my nose and sighing, right about now.

There's a reason the D&D alignment system in general, and paladins in specific, have been a point of contention for basically as long as such things have been elements of the game.
So you’re relying on the definition of good given in D&D. Gary Gygax wrote the Player’s Handbook that gave a definition of Lawful Good, but somehow he doesn’t seem to find a conflict in how he thinks of Lawful Good on Dragonsfoot, and what he wrote in the Player’s Handbook?

If you’re relying on the definition of good as given in D&D, and Gary defines and describes Lawful Good in a way that you disagree with I’m not sure how you can rely on D&D as an authority to refute its author.

If you’re referring to a different edition of D&D than what Gary wrote we may have a case of comparing apples to oranges.

Stephen Tannhauser

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2617 on: January 25, 2023, 06:03:20 PM »
While the killer might go to hell, his victims still go to heaven. That’s a worthy sacrifice for the greater good.

Again, only if the victims have the chance to repent first. No practical method of mass murder allows this. Logic has to acknowledge the limits of logical possibility to be valid (which is why the old "can God make a rock so heavy He can't lift it?" question is not a valid disproof of the concept of omnipotence).

Paladins can certainly be played in the Lawful Stupid end of the spectrum if issues like this aren't thought through. But it is possible to veer into the Stupid Good end of the spectrum as well, and the difficulty is that any move away from one end of the spectrum can always be seen as a dangerous slide towards the other.
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Bruwulf

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2618 on: January 25, 2023, 06:57:21 PM »
I don't know enough about D&D paladins to argue intelligently. I suspect that, in actual medieval times, anyone choosing to believe a sword over the established church hierarchy would be executed as a heretic.

Yeah, look, D&D, even at it's most crustiest of crusty, was never really modeling the "actual medieval times". So that's kind of a meaningless statement. In "actual medieval times", you didn't have paladin as D&D understands the concept... The idea of a divine conduit to a god, going around and healing with a touch and stuff? He'd be considered a saint or a prophet, a legendary figure. In D&D, he's not that special.

But in any event, even if you assume that people wouldn't believe the Paladin, for literally being able to sense evil, or know when he Fell, or when his magic items stopped working? Again, D&D as written has objective morality. That's, again, just saying that the church is corrupt/evil.

So you’re relying on the definition of good given in D&D. Gary Gygax wrote the Player’s Handbook that gave a definition of Lawful Good, but somehow he doesn’t seem to find a conflict in how he thinks of Lawful Good on Dragonsfoot, and what he wrote in the Player’s Handbook?

If you’re relying on the definition of good as given in D&D, and Gary defines and describes Lawful Good in a way that you disagree with I’m not sure how you can rely on D&D as an authority to refute its author.

If you’re referring to a different edition of D&D than what Gary wrote we may have a case of comparing apples to oranges.

And Ray Bradbury would later go on to say that the true message of Fahrenheit 451 was about the evils of television, while J.K. Rowling says that wizards used to go around shitting their robes and just magicking the feces away. As much as I'm one of the Tolkien scholars who will drag out things the man said in letters and such, I can recognize that sometimes it's best we not pay too much attention to stuff authors wrote after the fact.

I'll accept that Gary feels a certain way. I disagree with Gary. I don't think the work Gary published supports the views he espoused 30+  years later on an internet forum. If pressed, I'll go so far as to say as much as I respect Gary, I think his interpretation is stupid.

wmarshal

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2619 on: January 25, 2023, 07:10:25 PM »
I don't know enough about D&D paladins to argue intelligently. I suspect that, in actual medieval times, anyone choosing to believe a sword over the established church hierarchy would be executed as a heretic.

Yeah, look, D&D, even at it's most crustiest of crusty, was never really modeling the "actual medieval times". So that's kind of a meaningless statement. In "actual medieval times", you didn't have paladin as D&D understands the concept... The idea of a divine conduit to a god, going around and healing with a touch and stuff? He'd be considered a saint or a prophet, a legendary figure. In D&D, he's not that special.

But in any event, even if you assume that people wouldn't believe the Paladin, for literally being able to sense evil, or know when he Fell, or when his magic items stopped working? Again, D&D as written has objective morality. That's, again, just saying that the church is corrupt/evil.

So you’re relying on the definition of good given in D&D. Gary Gygax wrote the Player’s Handbook that gave a definition of Lawful Good, but somehow he doesn’t seem to find a conflict in how he thinks of Lawful Good on Dragonsfoot, and what he wrote in the Player’s Handbook?

If you’re relying on the definition of good as given in D&D, and Gary defines and describes Lawful Good in a way that you disagree with I’m not sure how you can rely on D&D as an authority to refute its author.

If you’re referring to a different edition of D&D than what Gary wrote we may have a case of comparing apples to oranges.

And Ray Bradbury would later go on to say that the true message of Fahrenheit 451 was about the evils of television, while J.K. Rowling says that wizards used to go around shitting their robes and just magicking the feces away. As much as I'm one of the Tolkien scholars who will drag out things the man said in letters and such, I can recognize that sometimes it's best we not pay too much attention to stuff authors wrote after the fact.

I'll accept that Gary feels a certain way. I disagree with Gary. I don't think the work Gary published supports the views he espoused 30+  years later on an internet forum. If pressed, I'll go so far as to say as much as I respect Gary, I think his interpretation is stupid.
It’s not any big deal to disagree with Gary or anyone on what the definition of good is. It becomes a stretch when Gary is giving his take on what Lawful Good is, in a thread focused on his works, but then claim the D&D that he wrote as a source to refute his understanding of Lawful Good.

You, and every table can have a definition for Lawful Good that’s different from Gary’s, and you could have excellent reasons for doing so, but understand that’s the definition at your table, it’ll be different from other tables, and is different from the definition of the author. You’re no longer using the “D&D” definition provided by the author. I’ve seen no evidence that Gary’s definition had changed or “developed”.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2620 on: January 25, 2023, 07:10:57 PM »
While the killer might go to hell, his victims still go to heaven. That’s a worthy sacrifice for the greater good.

Again, only if the victims have the chance to repent first. No practical method of mass murder allows this. Logic has to acknowledge the limits of logical possibility to be valid (which is why the old "can God make a rock so heavy He can't lift it?" question is not a valid disproof of the concept of omnipotence).

Paladins can certainly be played in the Lawful Stupid end of the spectrum if issues like this aren't thought through. But it is possible to veer into the Stupid Good end of the spectrum as well, and the difficulty is that any move away from one end of the spectrum can always be seen as a dangerous slide towards the other.
I can pretend it’s not a problem, just like I do so many other tropes. Realistically speaking, every setting which has eternal damnation would eventually inspire an interplanetary crusade to exterminate all life to save their souls from this fate. That’s basically the premise of Prince of Nothing, if you want to see a practical example.

Bruwulf

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2621 on: January 25, 2023, 07:35:12 PM »
You’re no longer using the “D&D” definition provided by the author. I’ve seen no evidence that Gary’s definition had changed or “developed”.

The "D&D definition provided by the author" is in the PHB (and other books). It's not what Gary wrote on a forum decades later.

That said, I'll freely admit I do ignore some parts of what Gary wrote even back then. I've always felt alignment languages were beyond stupid, for example, since we're arguing about alignment...

Grognard GM

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2622 on: January 25, 2023, 09:10:34 PM »
Gary was the one who made the comparison by quoting a real genocidal lunatic.

Except the saying predates your source. If Hitler said "might makes right," I could also say it, and I wouldn't be 'quoting Hitler.'

The orc babies argument is ancient. If you want to avoid the umpteenth time it's brought up and comparisons to real life genocide, then maybe redesign orcs so they don't have babies? 40k orks and 13th Age orcs are a good example of how you can do this.

Or I could discuss interesting, adult philosophical quandaries with other adults, without worrying about triggering the perpetually offended.

Sanitizing art so as not to offend isn't something I'd personally shoot for.


And even if it did, the act of taking children from their native culture and educating them in a radically different culture and belief system, however superior or beneficial you think that culture, is also considered to be a grave moral evil by the people objecting to the "evil race" trope. So there really isn't any way to answer that particular complaint, at least not from within its own philosophy.

Oh they do have an answer, you can see it above. Avoid any moral complexity that makes you uncomfortable.


So Tolkien felt that orcs could be redeemed, and it's clear that this is a reflection of his own real-world values.

You're digging deep in to the meta, while it's not needed from a lore POV.

Tolkiens Orcs are Elves that were twisted by a powerful entity. It makes sense that they have the capability to reform, at least to some degree.

D&D Orcs were hand crafter by an Evil god, to reflect his evil in their every deed, and said evil god works constantly to make sure that they maximise the evil they do.

It's the difference between killing starving people raiding your farm, that would leave you alone if they weren't starving; vs killing locusts that strip your farm every year, and always will.
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Ratman_tf

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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2623 on: January 25, 2023, 09:27:28 PM »
Tolkiens Orcs are Elves that were twisted by a powerful entity. It makes sense that they have the capability to reform, at least to some degree.

This was never definitively settled by Tolkien.

Quote
D&D Orcs were hand crafter by an Evil god, to reflect his evil in their every deed, and said evil god works constantly to make sure that they maximise the evil they do.

The first instance of a creation story for orcs in D&D that I'm aware of was the article in Dragon magazine, where the Orcs were cheated by the other gods for a place to live, and Grummush created a space for them, and swore revenge for their deceit and treachery.
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Re: RPGnet's decay (TBP madness)
« Reply #2624 on: January 25, 2023, 09:55:12 PM »
Tolkiens Orcs are Elves that were twisted by a powerful entity. It makes sense that they have the capability to reform, at least to some degree.

This was never definitively settled by Tolkien.

Quote
D&D Orcs were hand crafter by an Evil god, to reflect his evil in their every deed, and said evil god works constantly to make sure that they maximise the evil they do.

The first instance of a creation story for orcs in D&D that I'm aware of was the article in Dragon magazine, where the Orcs were cheated by the other gods for a place to live, and Grummush created a space for them, and swore revenge for their deceit and treachery.

Almost every explanation Tolkien had for the origin of his Orcs involved twisting an existing creature, be it Elf, Man or beast. Hence the oft used "Evil cannot create..."

My point stands even if they weren't twisted Elves...which they totally were. :P


As for D&D Orcs, you're talking about Dragon #62. In it they're referred to as his people before he declared they'd live wherever they wanted (bringing destruction.) They're not foundlings he finds a home for.
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